Paul Kossoff


Band members                              Related acts

- Paul Kossoff (RIP 1976) -- vocals, lead guitar

 

  backing musicians (1975) (Back Street Crawler)

- Tony Braunagal -- drums

- Mike Montgomery -- keyboards

- Terry Wilson-Slesser -- vocals

- Terry Wilson -- bass

 

  backing musicians:

- Rabbitt Bundrick -- keyboards

- Trevor Burton -- bass

- Clive Chaman -- bass

- Andy Fraser -- bass

- Conrad Isidore -- drums

- Simon Kirke -- drums

- John Martyn -- guitar

- Jess Roden -- vocals

- Paul Rodgers -- vocals

- Jean Roussel -- keyboards

- Alan Spenner -- bass

- Alan White -- drums

- Tetsu Yamauchi -- bass

 

 

 

Back Street Crawler

Beckett (Terry Wilson-Slesser)

- Bloontz (Tony Braunagel, Mike Montgomery, and Terry Wilson)

- The Black Cat Bones

- John Bundrick (solo efforts)

- Charlie (Terry Wilson-Slesser)

- Crawler

- Free

- Freedom (Terry Wilson-Slesser)

- Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu, and Rabbit

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Backs Street Crawler

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS 9265
Year:
 1976

Country/State: Hempstead, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut lower left corner

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5615

Price: SOLD $20.00

 

By the mid-1970s Free had fractured leaving guitarist Paul Kossoff to battle personal problems, including a nasty drug habit on his own.  With his drug use becoming ever more problematic Kossoff somehow managed to complete a solo album that he'd actually begun back in 1973.  Largely self-produced "Back Street Crawler" featured five tracks recorded over the 1973-76 timeframe with support from an all-star cast of friends, including all of his Free associates.  As you'd expect, recorded at different times and with different groups of players, the set had kind of a disconnected hit-or-miss feel.  Parts sounded almost like a demo effort intended to showcased Kossoff's potential as a solo act.  Elsewhere, although written by Kossoff, 'Molten Gold' was for all intents a Free effort showcasing the band including Paul Rodgers on vocals (in fact the song was subsequently included in a number of Free anthologies).  

 

"Back Street Crawler" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tuesday Morning (instrumental)    (Paul Kossoff) - 17:32

Clearly intended to showcase Kossoff's considerable chops, the album opened up with the 17 minute, side long 'Tuesday Morning'.  Edited down from a considerably longer set of studio jams, the song featured backing from keyboardist Rabbit Bundrick, bassist Trevor Burton, and drummer Alan White.  While the instrumental was a rock guitar fan delight, lacking a true hook it probably didn't do much for casual fans.

 

(side 2)
1.) I'm Ready  (Jess Roden - Jean Roussel) - 2:26

Showcasing Jess Roden on vocals (he also co-wrote the song with keyboardist Jean Roussel), 'I'm Ready' started side 2 started with one of the set's more conventional, if duller numbers. Kind of a plodding blue-eyed soul number, it would have been right at home slotted on one of Roden's solo albums.

2.) Time Away (instrumental)   (Paul Kossoff - John Martyn) - 5:46

Co-written with guitarist John Martyn, the instrumental 'Time Away' was edited down from a 38 minute studio jam.  Probably the most intriguing song on the album, the atmospheric instrumental featured a stunning Kossoff performance.

3,) Molten Gold   (Paul Kossoff) - 5:48

With backing from Free, including Paul Rodgers on vocals, 'Molten Gold' was the most commercial song on the set.  Hard to believe it wasn't released as a Free single (though it was subsequently used as the title for a Free retrospective).

4.) Back Street Crawler *Didn't You Need Me No More) (instrumental)   (Paul Kossoff) - 4:09

Sporting a great hook, the title track was my favorite song, if only for serving to showcase Kossoff at his best.  

Kossoff subsequently decided to turn Back Street Crawler into a full time band consisting of drummer Tony Braunagel, keyboardist Mike Montgomery, bassist Terry Wilson, and singer Terry Wilson-Slesser.  The band managed to record a pair of albums (1975's "And the Band Played On" and 1976's "Second Street") before Kossoff died of a drug-induced heart while onboard a March 1976 L.A.-to-New York plane flight.  He was only 25 at the time of his death.

 

 

 

Island catalog number 530 6082

 

In 2008 Island released an expanded version of the album.   A 2 CD set, "Kossoff Deluxe Extended" remastered the original album, adding a series of alternate versions and sections of 'Tuesday Morning' that were dropped from the original set:

 

1.) 'Tuesday Morning Early Take 1'

2.) 'Tuesday Morning Early Take 2'

3.) 'Tuesday Morning Blues'

4.) 'Tuesday Morning Groove'

5.) 'Tuesday Morning Boogie'

6.) 'Tuesday Morning Piano Jam'

 

The second CD was actually more interesting featuring a series of outtakes omitted from the original album, another previously unreleased John Martyn collaboration ('May You Never') and other odds and ends.

 

1.) 'I'm Ready Take 4'

2.) The Lady Is A Tramp'

3.) I'm Ready Take 10 Full Version'

4.) May You Never'

5.) Leslie Jam'

6.) Time Away The Complete Jam'

7.) Molten Gold"

8.) Molten Gold Songs Of Yesterday Version'

9.) Back Street Crawler (Don't Need You No More) Single Guitar Track Number 14'

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Croydon June 15th 1975

Company: Street Tunes

Catalog: SDLP 1002
Year:
 1983

Country/State: Hempstead, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 877

Price: $25.00

 

Yeah it was billed as a Paul Kossoff effort, but the fact of the matter is "Croydon June 15th 1975'" was actually a Back Street Crawler effort - in this case the final date from the band's debut English tour.  If you're to believe the liner notes, the double album reflected the entire, uninterrupted and un-edited concert.  If true, about the highest compliment I can pay them is that I would have gladly paid full freight to have seen this concert.

 

If you're a Paul Kossoff fan, you'll already know about his post-Free life, including Back Street Crawler.   Formed in 1975 after Kossoff had lost the previous two years to various personal and addictions, Back Street Crawler's line-up featured drummer Tony Braunagal, keyboardist Mike Montgomery, singer Terry Slesser, and bassist Terry Wilson.   The thirteen tracks on the album reflected material largely written, rehearsed, and recorded in the hopes of scoring a record deal (they eventually ended up on Atlantic).  In fact, this concert is basically a sneak preview of the band's forthcoming 1976 album "The Band Plays On" with  nine of the thirteen songs making the Back Street Crawler debut.  Having compared the two albums I can tell you that for the most part the forthcoming studio versions stuck pretty close to these live versions.  That's to say the results were pretty impressive with the band sounding quite tight given they hadn't been together very long.  Speculation on my part, but 'Molten Gold' and 'The Hunter' were probably dropped due to their Free roots (something Kossoff and company probably didn't want to highlight at the time).   'Sidekick To the Stars' was a nice enough rocker, but didn't stand-up compared to the other tunes.  Penned by keyboardist John Bundrick, 'We Won' was actually a pretty good rocker.   Not sure why it didn't make the cut.  In contrast, the group-penned 'Bird Song Blues' was a pedestrian blues-rock tune with Terry-Slesser trotting out his best Robert Plant impression.   

 

"Croydon June 15th 1975" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Band Plays On   (Terry Wilson) - 

It took a moment for the band to get going, but once Wilson's bass pattern kicked in the title track proved the album's funkiest tune and one of the standout performances.  It's always reminded me a bit of Bad Company and the live version was every bit as good as the studio version   rating: **** stars

2.) Sidekick To the Stars   (Mike Montgomery) - 

A bouncy, almost glam-flavored paean to groupies and other hangers-on, 'Sidekick To the Stars' sounded a bit like a Tommy Bolan tune, which may have explained why it didn't make the band's debut album.   rating: *** stars

3.) Long Way Down To the Top  (Mike Montgomery) - 

After introducing the band, 'Long Way Down To the Top' underscored the fact lead singer Wilson-Slesser was no Paul Rogers, but on the molten blues-rocker 'It's a Along Way Down To the Top' it didn't matter.  One of the band's best tunes,  the highlight was the tug of war between Montgomery's keyboards and Kossoff's guitar.  A classic FM rocker that would have made a nice single.   rating: **** stars

4.) New York   (Mike Montgomery) - 

Slightly more energetic that the forthcoming studio version (though Montgomery's keyboards were a bit loud in the mix), the ballad 'New York, New York' may have been a slice of mid-'70s corporate AOR, but with a great melody and some surprisingly tight harmony vocals, it was hard not to like this tune.  rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Train Song
  (Tony Braunagel - Terry Wilson) -

Inspired by their isolation when rehearsing and recording these tunes (to get Kossoff away from his vices, the band were sequester in Cornwall), the combination of Kossoff's guitar, Montgomery's synthesizers, and Terry-Sesser's growling voice seldom sounded as good as on this slow-boil rocker.  If there was a song that showed signs of originality, this was it.  Always loved Braunagel's locomotive paced drumming.  rating: **** stars

2.) Survivor   (Mike Montgomery) - 

Written and sung by Montgomery (easy to see why Wilson-Slesser handled most of the vocals - live he was even flatter than in the studio version), 'Survivor' found the band pushing into Mott the Hoople-styled rocker territory.   Strange song in that Montgomery played a pretty keyboard riff which had a hard rock arrangement slapped on top of it.   rating: *** stars

3.) Stealing My Way    (Paul Kossoff - Mike Montgomery - Slesser) -

Opening up with some nice Montgomery keyboards (Hammond B3 ?), 'Stealing My Way' had a distinctive Paul Rogers and Bad Company vibe.  The track didn't rate all that high on the originality scale, but I'm a big Bad Company fan so it didn't bother me much.  This was also one of the tracks that sounded better in the live setting than the future studio take.  Four stars here, three on the studio album.   rating: **** stars

4.) All the Girls Are Crazy   (Mike Montgomery)  - 

Sounds to be like there was an edit here (at least in the audience applause).   'All the Girls Are Crazy' featured one of the album's better hooks and would have made a decent single.  rating: *** stars

 

(side 3)
1) Jason Blue  
(Mike Montgomery)  - 

Kossoff had poached Braunagel, Montgomery, and Terry Wilson from the American band Blootz which is where this track came from.  Originally recorded for the Bloontz LP, 'Jason Blue' was unlike anything else on the album.  Musically it was a bluesy rocker that to my ears sounded like a cross between David Clayton Thomas, Meatloaf, and early Steely Dan (blame if on the horns).  Yeah, you'll simply have to hear this one to judge it yourself.  It was one of those songs that grew on you after awhile.   Interestingly, the live cover wasn't all that different from the original; a bit more rock-oriented, but quite unlike the rest of the album.   rating: *** stars

2.) Rock and Roll Junkie   (Mike Montgomery)  - 

Given Kossoff's well known addiction issues, I've always wondered about the decision to record a track titled 'Rock & Roll Junkie'.  Another track featuring Montgomery on vocals, this time out he sounded a lot better surrounded by the tougher arrangement.  Maybe a result of Montgomery's rugged voice, this was another one that sounded a bit liken Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople outtake.    rating: *** stars

3.) Molten Gold    

Another Free tune (and the only Kossoff original on the album), the live version 'Molten Gold' was one of the tracks where the sound quality was sub par.  Add to that the unnecessary horns and Terry-Slesser's voice sounded tired (this was the last song on the set list) and the performances was a modest disappointment    rating: *** stars

 

(side 4)

1) The Hunter   (Booker T. Jones - Carl Wells - Al Jackson Jr. - Donald Dunn - Steve Cropper) - 

Free covered it on one of their albums (think it was on 1968's "Tons of Sobs").  The first of three encore tracks, their live cover of 'The Hunter' was simply killer.   I suspect Albert King would have been pleased with their version of the tune.  rating: **** stars

2.) We Won   (John Bundrick) - 

Another track that didn't appear on the debut album.  I know that John Bundrick replaced Mike Montgomery in Back Street Crawler, but I'm not sure how 'We Won' got in the band's repertoire.  Musically this was actually a pretty good rocker.  Nice pounding melody with plenty of clavinet (mini-Moog?) and one of Terry-Slesser's better vocals.  rating: *** stars

3.) Bird Song Blues   (Paul Kossoff - Mike Montgomery - Terry Wilson-Slesser - Terry Wilson - Tony Braunagel) - 

The only track to carry a group writing credit, 'Bird Song Blues' was another track that didn't make it on the debut album.  In this case it was pretty easy to see why it was left off - pedestrian and generally uninteresting blues--rock with Terry-Slesser seemingly trotting out his best Robert Plant impersonation.  don't think I need to say anything else.    rating: ** stars

 

So buy this one, or the Back Street Crawler debut album.   Unless you are a hopeless hardcore fan, there's no need to own both. 

 

 

 

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